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Cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Rather than attempting to gain more share in an already saturated market, Blue Ocean Strategy is about creating demand in a growing, uncontested market and capturing this uncontested space. Companies should look for new market space and ways to reinvent the industry. In short, avoid head-to-head competition and focus on innovation. Such companies will have more success, fewer risks, and increased profits in a blue ocean market.
Go Big or Go Home
On Interstate 70, between Indianapolis and St. Louis near mile marker 120 in Illinois, there is a sign that reads “See the World’s Largest Wind Chime in Casey, Illinois”. It is meant to be intriguing, especially to vacationing families. After all, part of the allure of a road trip is to veer off the beaten path and discover hidden gems and backroad joints that make a place singularly unique. A short two-mile drive off the interstate leads to a small town parking area in front of the Whitling Whimsy, a restaurant next to the huge wind chime. The wind chime is indeed awe inspiring at 55 feet tall. With chimes suspended high above the ground, the massive wind chime is a sight to behold. The longest of the five chimes is 42 feet long — nearly double the size of the previous world record holder. Visitors are allows to pull the rope that makes the chimes clang together. The chimes sing gentle and deep as they strike the clapper. What a memorable visual and auditory experience! And well worth a 2-minute drive off the main road.
But that’s not all that Casey, IL has to offer the average tourist. Near the largest wind chime, there is another sign that reads “See the World’s Largest Golf Tee at the Casey Country Club.” The world’s largest golf tee is located behind the clubhouse at the Casey Country Club. It was placed there in 2013. The golf tee measures more than 30 feet from the ground to the top, with a head diameter of 6.26 feet and a shaft diameter of 2.1 feet, and is constructed with yellow pine boards held together by 60 gallons of glue and 120 pounds of screws. The total structure weighs 6,659 pounds.
Not only does Casey, Illinois have the world’s largest wind chime and golf tee, it is also home to the world’s largest rocking chair. The chair, topped off on August 25, 2015, is 56 1/2’ tall and weighs 46,200 pounds. It beats the previous largest chair (42 feet, 1 inch tall) in Fanning, MO, which held the Guinness record for over seven years. And, you guessed it, there are other BIG things in Casey, IL. The world’s largest knitting needles, crochet hook, mailbox and birdcage are all located in downtown Casey, IL. A supremely impressive construction effort, the massive mailbox features a door that opens and closes by means of a cable winch. And the giant birdcage actually has a swing on the perch on which a person can swing. The latest installment is a large pitchfork at Richard’s Farm Restaurant. At 60 feet long and weighing 1,940 pounds, it is one of the newest items in this small town.
Clearly, the goal for the Tourism Board of Casey, IL is not just to get into the Guinness Book of Records but to give tourists a big enough reason to visit the little town. Such novelties got that small town noticed in a BIG way, reinvigorating the local economy and differentiating it from the hundreds or thousands of other small towns in America. And these kitschy novelties have made Casey, IL memorable. Certainly, families who visit Casey, IL will have photos to share and stories to tell for years to come. Creativity and the power of magnification was used to stand out.
Magnification is just one way to creatively discover new angles for positioning an organization, company, entertainment program, ad campaign or even a town. Magnification means taking the whole or some part of the business or entity and enhancing, enlarging or scaling it up significantly.
A perfect example is the giant Idaho baked potato. What began in 2012 as a one-year campaign to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission, a potato was placed on the back of a semi and driven across the US. But this was not just any potato. The Big Idaho Potato weighs 44,320 lbs. The truck and trailer on which the enormous spud sits is 72’ in length, 10’ wide and 13’ tall. It was such a huge success that it is now on its 9th cross-country journey and has become a big piece of pop-culture. The point of the potato is to promote the certified heart-healthy Idaho Potato industry, but it has since been tied to helping small town charities as well. Potatoes may grow in other states, but most Americans absolutely associate potatoes with Idaho. That’s one way to stand out.
Some companies are created to stand apart from the start. For example, LUSH Cosmetics differentiated itself from other stores like Sephora or Etsy by zeroing in exclusively on handmade products that appeal to Zellennials who value social and corporate responsibility. Another company that set out to be different from the start in an ocean of sameness is Virgin Voyages, a sister company of Virgin Atlantic Airlines. They magnified luxury, offering an experience where superyacht design meets with dream destinations. Unlike typical cruise lines that cater to families and offer a very canned (as in sardines) experience, Virgin Voyages focuses on adults. Their cruises are Adult-by-Design for those who are 18+. No kids, no kidding. The activities offered are designed for adults, like Yoga, meditation, cycling, HIIT classes, and more, all of which are all included in the price. They also understand that adults need to stay connected so Wifi is included, unlike most cruise ships. Like all cruises, food and beverages are included, but they offer fine dining at 20 eateries on each ship and beverages include still and sparkling water, non-pressed juices, sodas, teas and even drip coffee. There is no doubt that Virgin Voyages stands apart from most of its competitors.
How to Stand Out
So how does an existing company or a new business line identify the “one thing” upon which they want to hang their hat and stand out? For Casey, IL, it was nostalgic hometown everyday items at a giant scale. For LUSH, it was a return to homemade products. For Virgin Voyages, it was floating luxury for adults. But what about companies that are competing head to head in a space that is pretty much the same for all, such as insurance? Even that can be differentiated. Consider how these companies all sell insurance – which is about a boring a product as there can be — from a very different, memorable angles.
- Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is there – Always there to help when life does not go right.
- You’re in Good Hands with Allstate – Your protection from the chaos.
- Geico – 15 Minutes could save you 15% – Budget Friendly.
- Now that’s Progressive – Choices, so you get the right amount of protection.
- Farmers – We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two – Highly experienced.
How to Stand Apart
There is a creative process that an organization can go through to identify that “one thing” that can make their brand unique. Here are some questions to ask:
- What can be exaggerated?
- Is making it higher or bigger or longer a possibility?
- What features could be overstated?
- How about greater frequency?
- What can be magnified, made larger or extended?
- How can something be carried it to a dramatic extreme?
- What can be added?
- Can we provide or take more time?
- Could we make it stronger?
- Can we make it softer, more aromatic or more appealing to the senses?
- What added features could make our product/service unique?
- How can we add extra value?
In his TED Talk, Seth Godin said that in order for ideas to spread, they must be ‘remarkable’… as in worth remarking about… worth mentioning. The goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace and rise above the noise. Does your company rise about the noise? If not, it’s time to find a way to stand apart.
Quote of the Week
“Whatever you do, be different. If you’re different, you will stand out.” Anita Roddick
© 2021, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.